Francis Durbridge Presents: Bat Out of Hell (1966, John Thaw, Noel Johnson)

In Bat Out Of Hell estate agent Mark Paxton is embroiled in an affair with his boss’s wife Diana Stewart. The pair have hatched a plot to murder her husband Geoffrey. Whilst looking over a prospective new house Mark shoots and kills Geoffrey hiding his body in his car. Before he can get rid of the “evidence” the body goes missing. Diana then receives a phone call from her “dead” husband.

There is more intrigue when Mark finds a cigarette case inscribed on the inside with a note from Geoffrey to Diana saying “you came like a bat out of hell…” The cigarette case though does definitely not belong to Diana. Not only that her friend Thelma Bowen is lying to the police – she tells Diana that Geoffrey has also been in contact with her but denies it to Inspector Clay who is investigating the case. Thelma then turns up dead. Or does she.

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Another superbly tangled plot from the master Durbridge, we know right from the start that Mark and Diana have conspired to murder Geoffrey but from there Durbridge layers on intrigue on top of intrigue. When Mrs Bowen is seen dead and then turns up a couple of scenes later you do think Durbridge is playing games with us but by the fifth and final episode it’s clear that someone has been blackmailing pretty much everyone in the cast. Things then move quickly as Inspector Clay realises just who the guilty party is.

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production details
UK / BBC Two / 5×25 minutes / Broadcast 26 November – 24 December 1966

Series: Francis Durbridge Presents Season 6

Writer: Francis Durbridge
Story Editor: Roger Parkes
Design: Roy Oxley
Producer and Director: Alan Bromly

Sylvia Syms as Diana Stewart
Noel Johnson as Geoffrey Stewart
Emrys Jones as Walter Bowen
John Thaw as Mark Paxton
June Ellis as Thelma Bowen
Stanley Meadows as Ned Tallboy
Dudley Foster as Inspector Clay
David Quilter as Vince
Clive Graham as Sergeant Booth
Patsy Smart as Kitty Tracey

Alastair James is the editor in chief for Memorable TV. He has been involved in media since his university days. Alastair is passionate about television, and some of his favourite shows include Line of Duty, Luther and Traitors. He is always on the lookout for hot new shows, and is always keen to share his knowledge with others.